Tested

Uber CEO apologizes for berating a driver; customs agents test an engineer with a work visa; and more.


  • Trump watch: A software engineer from Nigeria was held temporarily by U.S. Customs and given a test to prove he’s an engineer, Caroline Fairchild reports for Recode. He wasn’t released until the company he was coming to work for temporarily confirmed his story for customs officials.

  • The Center for American Progress Action Fund created a Google doc to crowdsource real-time fact-checking of Trump’s address to Congress last night.

  • Longread: How many writers and thinkers does it take to decide whether Democracy can survive big data and artificial intelligence? Nine, apparently. Dirk Halbing, Brun Frey, Gerd Gigerenzer, Ernst Hafen, Michael Hagner, Yvonne Hofstetter, Jeroen van den Hoven, Roberto V. Zicari, and Andrej Zwitter tackle the subject for Scientific American.

  • The New Yorker’s Kathryn Schulz investigates how effective calling Congress really is. She writes, “In normal times, then—which is to say, in the times we don’t currently live in—calling your members of Congress is not an intrinsically superior way to get them to listen. But what makes a particular type of message effective depends largely on what you are trying to achieve. For mass protests, such as those that have been happening recently, phone calls are a better way of contacting lawmakers, not because they get taken more seriously but because they take up more time—thereby occupying staff, obstructing business as usual, and attracting media attention.”

  • Sam Gustin explains for Motherboard why net neutrality is absolutely essential in Trump’s America. “As Trump’s authoritarian tendencies come into sharper relief with each passing day, it’s becoming very clear that net neutrality is not just about creating a level playing field so the next generation of online startups can flourish,” he writes. “It’s also about free speech—a principle that’s under increasing attack by President Trump, who has declared America’s free press an “enemy of the people,” using ominous language reminiscent of totalitarian dictators like Stalin.”

  • Uncivic tech: A federal class-action lawsuit alleges that donations made through PayPal’s Giving Fund may never reach the charitable organizations they are meant to if they aren’t registered with PayPal, Julia Carrie Wong reports for The Guardian. The complaint claims PayPal 1) neglected to inform the donor or her chosen charity that the funds were not properly transferred; 2) the company said that they would take it upon themselves to transfer funds to “similar charities” after six months; 3) that their motivation was to force charities to create and use PayPal business accounts so the company would profit from the fees. Wow.

  • In a leaked dashcam video posted by Bloomberg, Uber Ceo Travis Kalanick told a driver complaining of falling rates “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit” and “They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!”

  • After the story by Eric Newcomer broke, Kalanick sent a note to Uber employees in which he wrote “To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement.” He apologized for his outburst and said, “It’s clear this video is a reflection of me—and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.”

  • Guy Rolnik explains in a blog post for the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business how Uber carries out massive under-the-table lobbying efforts.

  • Kansas City is using open data and smart city sensors to provide real-time parking and traffic information, Jason Shueh reports for StateScoop.

  • The Kairos Fellowship just announced the newest cohort. Learn more about the fellows and the exciting project they’re working on here.

  • Attend: A panel on how LatinoJustice will be fighting for DACA and DREAMers, March 15, 6:30pm. Learn more and RSVP here.

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